TIM Rees ensured Farnworth Social Circle got the better of the weather and the Westhoughton bowling attack on Saturday as rain yet again had an impact on the league programme.
Two of the seven matches were abandoned and one drawn but leaders Social Circle and second-placed Bradshaw were among the lucky ones who got in enough cricket to bank winning points.
Downpours that lasted between 40 minutes and more than two hours, depending on which part of Bolton the matches were played, forced a series of revised targets and prompted teams to modify their tactics – Rees being one player who adapted to good effect.
After Social Circle’s bowlers had skittled visitors Westhoughton for 101 in 40 overs - Dave Mather took 5-57 in 20.1 overs and Liam Bones 3-37 in 16 – a rain break meant the hosts were set a revised target of 72 from 23 overs.
That proved no contest for Rees, who hit five fours and three sixes on his way to an unbeaten 44 off 29 balls as Circle reached their target inside 12 overs for the loss of just one wicket.
Similarly, Anthony Jones was at full throttle as he led Bradshaw to an eight-wicket victory over Kearsley, smashing six fours and six sixes on his way to an unbeaten 70, although it was a close-run thing.
Bradshaw took on a target of 125 off 14 overs as a consequence of a two-hour rain break, Kearsley having posted 178-9 in their 50 overs - Charlie Dorsey top scoring with 49 for the visitors, Saeed Anwar Jnr (4-50) and Steve Foster (3-60) the pick of the bowlers.
Jones was clearly in confident form, but the match was in the balance until the final over when he hit the winning runs with just three balls to spare.
Astley Bridge had just two balls to spare when they took the final wicket to claim victory at home to Little Lever.
David Cryer top-scored with an unbeaten 35 as Bridge posted 171-9 in their full quota of overs - 21 of which were bowled by Rakeeb Mahmood, who took 6-84.
In reply, Lever took on the challenge of making 114 from 22 overs and came desperately close to making it, or at least forcing a draw, before they were bowled out two runs short with just two more balls to see out – Syd De Silva (3-30) and Steve Shepley (3-20) leading the Bridge bowling attack.
“It was close all the way through and a very tight finish,” said delighted Bridge skipper Rick Northrop.
“We’d lost 28 overs to the rain, and even though they knew they couldn’t get the minimum 25 overs in, they decided to go for it. A target of 114 from 22 overs with 10 wickets to go at was not unreasonable from their point of view.
“We were ahead, they were ahead and it got very tense at the end. We had to take the wickets to win because if we hadn’t bowled them out it would have been a draw because they wouldn’t have got the minimum 25 overs in.”
Horwich enjoyed a 15-run win at Eagley thanks to the depth of their batting line-up posting a score of 232-7 from their full allocation of 50 overs. But they were almost beaten by the weather.
A two-hour downpour threatened the bring a premature end to the match, but the players were able to get back out with Eagley being set a revised target of 163 off 25 overs.
They started slowly but once opener Mike Ward (57) got into his stride, they gradually picked up the pace and with skipper Danny Counsell (42no) taking charge they needed 31 off the last two overs – but in the end Horwich’s bowling attack of Babar Naeem (2-74), Andy Taylor (2-35) and Adam Street (1-36) prevailed as the home side fell 14 runs short.
Openers Phil Cavill (39) and Joe Settle (36) gave Horwich a solid start, which laid the foundation for Marcus Pratt (59) and Pete Halliday (47no) to post what turned out to be a winning score. Andy Cumberbatch was the best of the Eagley bowlers taking 4-75 off 17 overs.
Farnworth and Greenmount were less fortunate with the weather, which forced the abandonment of their much anticipated clash at Bridgeman Park.
Only 32 overs were bowled before the heavens opened at 3.35pm, leaving the pitch waterlogged.
Greenmount had reached 74-7 at that point, Ryan Senior top scoring with 27 and sharing a first-wicket partnership of 46 with Andy Kerr. But with Adil Nisar taking 3-8, it looked like Farnworth had the upper hand until the weather intervened.
Frustratingly for both sides reports came through that the second-teams didn’t see a drop of rain a Greenmount.
Egerton were equally frustrated at Blackburn Road where Heaton got in their full allocation of 50 overs, posting an enticing 151 – only for their reply to be halted after just 21 overs, leaving the match officially abandoned.
Tonge’s batsmen were surprised when they saw Walkden roll out their latest signing – the former West Indies Test star Corey Collymore.
The 36-year-old Barbadian, who is resident in the UK and is no longer contracted to a club, has joined Walkden as an amateur – and looks like the former Middlesex seamer might make quite an impact at Harriett Street.
Collymore took the first two wickets as a stunned Tonge were reeling at 4-3 and went on to take a couple more wickets.
Gulam Abbas (46) helped Tonge recover to 133-7 in 31 overs before the rains came and ended the match.
Astley Bridge 171-9 Little Lever 112.
Astley Bridge won by 59 runs (Revised target).
Bradshaw 126-2 Kearsley 178-9.
Bradshaw won by 8 wkts (Revised target)
Eagley 148-8 Horwich 232-7.
Horwich won by 14 runs (Revised target).
Egerton 62-7 Heaton 151.
Farnworth did not bat. Greenmount 74-7.
Farnworth SC 72-1 Westhoughton 101.
Farnworth SC won by 9 wkts.
Walkden did not bat. Tonge 133-7.